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MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki will discuss Palestinian-Israeli settlement in Moscow on Wednesday. Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier that "the meeting will focus on the problems of Palestinian-Israeli peace process" in the light of the forum on Middle Eastern settlement that was held in Paris on June 3.
It is expected that special attention at the meeting will be paid to the situation on Palestinian territories. "The prospects of establishing inter-Palestinian unity will definitely be discussed, and relevant issues of bilateral Russian-Palestinian cooperation in different spheres will be touched upon separately," Zakharova noted.
According to several observers, the international conference on Middle Eastern settlement that took place in Paris on June 3, can hardly be considered productive. Establishing working groups which should have been facilitating promotion of peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine, did not move anywhere from statements that had been made before the event.
Despite the high level of participation (UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, US State Secretary John Kerry), the final document for the press looked rather dull - the agreements reached by the participating countries were outlined on half a page.
The sides have once again confirmed their support for the two-state solution, condemned Israel’s settlement policy, and noted the importance of direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine. External players can only facilitate the settlement of the conflict, as many politicians at the conference stressed, but only Israelis and Palestinians can reach a direct agreement.
In turn, Moscow has described the conference as useful and called for analyzing its results. "The meeting was useful. The results of this discussion that took place in Paris will have to be analyzed, along with the final document, and see what can be done to promote sustainable negotiations process between Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of these approaches," Russian presidential special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS after the conference.
At the same time, the situation with direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel remains very complicated. According to Bogdanov, "the pause in the political process between the sides has become too long."
"The formula of the two-state solution came under a real threat. Though it was not removed from the agenda, prospects of fail settlement on the internationally recognized basis are practically melting away in front of our eyes," the diplomat noted. "It is nearing the ‘point of no return’. Such developments would only facilitate further escalation of tensions," he said in Paris.
At the same time, the main task of the international community, and Moscow in particular, is to make the sides sit down at the negotiations table. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also noted the importance of creating conditions for such talks speaking at the press conference on the sidelines of the meeting in Paris.
Moscow, in turn, expressed readiness to provide a platform for possible negotiations between Palestine and Israel. "Of course, we are ready (to provide a platform) if the two sides - Israelis and Palestinians - have the desire and readiness to meet. I think that contacts exist in some kind of format. If they would want to meet in Moscow, we are ready for that," Bogdanov noted.
Coincidence or not, but the visits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki to Moscow follow one after another and even overlap. However, no contacts between the two officials are planned in Moscow. In an interview with the Russian media, al-Maliki said his visit to Moscow at the time of Netanyahu’s official trip to the Russian capital is "a coincidence."
Moreover, both sides are currently reluctant to establish dialogue. Time will show whether Palestinians and Israelis will sit down at the negotiations table, especially considering the results of the conference in Paris. To some extent, it will depend on Wednesday’s meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Palestine.